Date of Award:


Document Type:


Degree Name:

Master of Science (MS)


Animal, Dairy, and Veterinary Sciences

Committee Chair(s)

Fernanda Batistel


Fernanda Batistel


S. Clay Isom


Allen J. Young


Our research examined the effects of fish oil supplementation on intestinal permeability, systemic inflammation and performance in piglets. An lipopolysaccharide (LPS) challenge was done to stimulate the synthesis and release of the cytokines, in an effort to mimic the immune response that piglets would have when facing stress or pathogen challenge. Fish oil increased feed intake but did not affect growth when compared to control. Total fatty acid digestibility increased by 6% when fish oil was included in the diet. Also, we observed a 16% increase on 16-carbon fatty acids digestibility. Fish oil did not affect the plasma D-xylose concentration used to analyze in-vivo intestinal permeability. The plasma concentration of the pro-inflammatory cytokine TNF-α was not affected by fish oil before the LPS challenge. Immune stimulation by the LPS challenge results in the production of pro-inflammatory cytokines, which can suppress growth. After the LPS challenge, fish oil decreased PGE2 and tended to decrease IL-6 concentration in blood samples, while TNF-α increased. A Ussing chamber was used to monitor intestinal permeability ex-vivo. Fish oil tended to enhance the intestinal barrier function by decreasing the FITC flux reflecting a fortified intestinal barrier function. Our results suggest that supplementing an omega-3 PUFA source may modulate the immune response and promote intestinal integrity when the animals are facing an immune challenge. The protective effects of fish oil on the intestine may be closely related to preventing systemic inflammation by decreasing intestinal permeability.